If you’re one of the 16 million adults in America that suffers from chronic back pain, chances are your posture is part of the problem. Posture refers to the way your skeleton and muscles hold your body up. Good posture achieves what’s called a “neutral spine.” That means all three natural curves of the spine, including the cervical or neck curve, the thoracic curve of your middle spine, and the lumbar curve of your lower spine, are in alignment. Maintaining a neutral spine is a challenge for most of us, though. Here are the common mistakes that lead to bad posture and what you can do to correct them.
Calling All Slouchers
It’s estimated that the average American spends approximately eight hours a day sitting. One of the most common mistakes people make when sitting is slouching. Slouching happens when your back is not flush against your seat. In the moment, slouching may not cause discomfort. In fact, it may feel comfortable and relaxing. In the long run, though, this bad posture move can lead to chronic back pain. To correct this, sit upright with your back and bottom against your seat.
Take a Stand
Sitting isn’t the only position where bad posture mistakes can happen. The way you stand can lead to chronic back pain too. One common posture mistake is hyperextending so that your bottom is sticking out farther than it should. This is often caused by wearing high heels and overcompensating with extra weight around the waist. Nicknamed the “Donald Duck position,” you can correct this by imagining a string pulling straight up from the top of your head to keep your shoulders relaxed, your pelvis in a neutral position, and your weight balanced equally on both feet.
Another common posture mistake is standing with your pelvis tucked in, creating an outwardly curved spine. The same correction techniques work for this position as for the Donald Duck position. Remember, strengthening your core, hips, and legs will go a long way in achieving good posture.
Don’t Forget Your Leg Position
Have you ever found yourself leaning more on one leg than the other? You’re not alone! This common posture mistake is harmful for several reasons. It causes a muscle imbalance in your pelvis, uneven hips, and strain to your lower back and buttocks. Carrying heavy items like a backpack or a child on your hip are common culprits of this bad posture position. To correct this, avoid carrying heavy objects on your back or hips. Be mindful of standing with your weight evenly distributed on both legs.
The Device Dilemma
You’ll rarely find someone using their computer, laptop, tablet, or phone while maintaining good posture. Hunching is the common posture mistake during the numerous hours we spend with a device in hand. Leaning forward, hunching the shoulders, and hanging your neck down can add up to chronic neck, shoulder, and back pain. Instead, keep devices at eye level, imagine the string pulling your head up, relax your shoulders, and keep your weight evenly distributed while standing.
Chronic back pain is a serious problem for millions of Americans and even more worldwide. Back pain impacts mobility, and ultimately, your quality of life. Having good posture and strengthening your core work to protect your back, neck, shoulders, and spine. For more information about back and spine health, you can speak with your primary care provider or visit the Augusta Health Spine Clinic for more information about our services.